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Family-friendly nukes?!?

March 27, 2017

Moms for Nukes launched at UN today

This morning’s opening of the historic negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons has been a study in contrasts.

As States and civil society gathered in the UN General Assembly to hear powerful opening statements from representatives of the Secretary General, Pope Francis, the ICRC, Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, and the State leaders of the ban treaty negotiations, the UN ambassadors from three nuclear-armed States—the US, the UK, and France—stood outside the room to announce their boycott of the negotiations.

Earlier, while standing on line this morning to get my UN pass, I had confidently told Rob Laney of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation that Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, would have nothing new or interesting to say about why the nuclear-armed states are boycotting the negotiations.

Wow, was I wrong!

For the first time in some 40 years of listening to the US and the other nuclear-armed states offer irrational, self-serving, and disingenuous reasons for keeping nuclear weapons, I’ve never heard anyone put up a “family values” argument before. Haley walked up to the microphone and said that she could not support ban treaty negotiations “as a mother.” That the “good people” who have nuclear weapons (the US, etc.) need them to protect their children from the “bad people” who have them (North Korea) or want them (Iran).

Sure, she said, she’d rather have nuclear-weapons-free world, but that’s not reality, certainly not right now, and so she’s opposed to banning nuclear weapons for the sake of her children.

The ambassadors from the UK and France gave the more familiar reasons for the boycott…the ban treaty is impractical; it will undermine the NPT; it works against the security interests of those who rely on nuclear deterrence; it will throw the world into utter chaos; etc., etc. But Haley raised the bar for absurd objections impossibly high, and neither one of them came even close to clearing it.

As I listened to Haley’s remarks, I vividly recalled standing on the Boston Common in 1982, as Helen Caldicott spoke about the horror of nuclear war, and made an impassioned call—as a doctor and a mother—to eliminate nuclear weapons for the sake of all the world’s children. That was a family values statement about nuclear weapons.

Then again, Nikki Haley is no Helen Caldicott.

  1. Dr Michael Orgel permalink
    March 27, 2017 4:17 pm

    I saw Dr Helen Caldicott speak in 1980 and it changed my life. More important than ever to educate younger generations about the realities of nuclear weapons and need to ban them as a start…Well said John

  2. Susan Armistead, M.D. permalink
    March 27, 2017 3:25 pm

    I find this current administration the most ignorant of any before it since I’ve been aware and that would around 1969.
    Their ‘alternative’ facts are truly frightening!
    I wish I had left this country when I graduated from Medical School and never looked back. But I was not sophisticated enough to realize what was really going on politically.
    I feel sorry for the world for what we as a country have done and continue to do to it.
    Stephen Hawkings says we have maybe 1,000 years left as a species. I’m not that optimistic.
    If we don’t leave sooner, I am afraid we may take all life on earth along with us.

  3. March 27, 2017 12:32 pm

    If there was ever a time for a BAN, it’s now!!

  4. Mary-Wynne Ashford permalink
    March 27, 2017 12:29 pm

    This comment from the American Ambassador the UN simply takes my breath away.She clearly comes from the generation that knows nothing whatsoever about nuclear weapons, the horrifying way her children would die, the effects on the whole planet of even a small exchange of nuclear bombs, the threat of accidental or purposeful launching…
    I could go on and on.

    The significance of the Ambassador’s statement is that it highlights the gap in awareness and education of those who have grown up since 1991 and those of us who have lived with this existential fear for decades. If ever there was a time for prayer it is now.


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